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Stop bullying Nepal, CPI-M tells Modi government

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New Delhi: The CPI-M on Thursday urged the Indian government to stop bullying Nepal and to end the blockades on the border that have caused widespread shortages in that country.

“The (Narendra) Modi government should stop this bullying policy,” said an editorial in “People’s Democracy”, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

“It should immediately take steps to clear the obstructions in the border crossings in consultation with the Nepali government,” it added.

The editorial said New Delhi’s confrontationist policy towards Nepal — following protests by Madhesi groups against Kathmandu’s new constitution — “has led to an unprecedented breach in India-Nepal relations.

“After adopting a negative attitude to the constitution promulgated in Nepal on September 20, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government has gone ahead with further exacerbating tensions,” the CPI-M said.

It said that for over two months, all the transit routes to Nepal from India had been blockaded.

Landlocked Nepal depends on the land routes through India for the supply of all essential commodities and trade.

“The Madhesi agitation, which is backed by the Modi government, has blockaded Raxaul-Birgunj crossing and some other routes. This has led to a severe shortage of fuel and other essential commodities.

“The people are also suffering since the reconstruction work after the devastating earthquake has been affected. Vehicles are not able to carry construction materials for putting up prefabricated housing before winter sets in.

“The fuel shortages are affecting helicopter movement which is needed for delivering supplies to mountainous areas.”

It said New Delhi’s stand that it had nothing to do with the blockade and that this was because of the Madhesi agitation and the insecurity faced by Indian transporters did not wash.

“In fact it is reported that India has unofficially sealed the border even in eastern Nepal where there are no protests.”

The CPI-M said the Modi government was making no bones about its support for the Madhesi agitation, and Madhesi groups were openly claiming support of India.

“A delegation of Madhesi leaders visited Delhi to hold consultations in the last week of October. This is a flagrant interference in the internal affairs of Nepal.”

It said India’s “arrogant stance” amounted to “pointing a gun to the head and asking Nepal to accede to the Indian-backed Madhesi demand”.

The editorial said the undeclared blockade by New Delhi had aroused strong feelings in Nepal, and popular anger against India was running high.

“The Modi government’s attitude … is an outcome of the Modi government’s projection of India as a big power in the region and national chauvinism.

“The RSS-BJP combine was affronted by the decision of the Nepal Constituent Assembly to declare Nepal a secular republic.

“Modi and the BJP were also willing to harm relations with Nepal for the sake of winning support of the Madhesis who have a substantial transborder presence in the neighbouring areas of Bihar, keeping in mind the assembly elections there.”

The CPI-M said the problems of Madhesis and ‘janjatis’ should be amicably resolved by political process within Nepal, and the Indian government must use its influence with Madhesis to see that negotiations take place.

(IANS)

 

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To Fight Air Pollution, Delhi Scientists Are Turning Smoke Into Ink

Diesel exhaust contributed to just 2 percent of all air pollution deaths in India in 2015, according to the Health Effects Institute.

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In New Delhi, levels of the most dangerous particles in the air are sometimes 10 times higher than the safe limit, the survey noted.
Garbage Burning in Delhi, wikimedia commons

As the pre-monsoon summer heat takes hold in New Delhi, two things are as inevitable as 40-degree-Celsius days: power cuts and air pollution from the diesel generators that then kick in.

But a team of Indian engineers has figured out away to bring some good from choking generator exhaust: They are capturing it and turning it into ink.

“The alarming thing about diesel generators is they are located in the heart of densely populated areas. It’s spitting smoke right there,” said Kushagra Srivastava, one of the three engineers who developed the technology, now installed in Gurgaon, a satellite city of New Delhi, and in the southern city of Chennai.

The idea, Srivastava said, came about when he and his co-founders stopped at a sugarcane juice stall on a hot day.

They noticed a wall that had turned black behind the stand’s diesel generator, where exhaust emerged from a pipe.

They wondered if diesel exhaust might be used to produce paint — and set out to try.

The device they came up with, which attaches to generators, captures 90 percent of the soot particles from cooled diesel exhaust. The material can then be sold to ink manufacturers.

Srivastava and Dhupar both grew up in New Delhi, which the World Health Organization in 2014 declared the most polluted city in the world.
Smog in Delhi, wikimedia commons

Their company, Chakr Innovation, has so far installed 50 of the devices for government firms such as Indian Oil, real estate developers and other state government offices, earning more than 11 million rupees ($200,000) in revenue in the first year, Srivastava said.

The company has plans to install another 50 devices over the coming year, he said. It has so far sold 500 kg of collected soot, which has been used to create 20,000 liters of ink, he added.

Chakr Innovations is not the first start-up to see cash in diesel exhaust. A competitor called Graviky Labs, based in Bangalore, is using similar technology to turn diesel exhaust from vehicles into ink.

Choking Air

Srivastava and his co-inventors Arpit Dhupar and Prateek Sachan see themselves as part of a movement towards cleaner air and energy in a country where major cities struggle with choking air.

About 1.1 million people a year die from the impacts of air pollution in India, according to a 2015 survey by the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute. That is about a quarter of the total number of air pollution deaths worldwide, it said.

In New Delhi, levels of the most dangerous particles in the air are sometimes 10 times higher than the safe limit, the survey noted.

Srivastava and Dhupar both grew up in New Delhi, which the World Health Organization in 2014 declared the most polluted city in the world. Sachan comes from Allahabad, the third most polluted city in WHO’s 2016 rankings.

“Earlier I remember there were a lot less cars on the road, there was a lot less congestion, and a lot more greenery,” said Dhupar, Chakr’s chief technology officer.

But as trees were felled and roads widened to accommodate more cars, Dhupar — then in high school — developed chronic respiratory problems. Doctors put him on medication and warned him to stop playing sports.

“My problem is, whenever I start to run out of air, the anxiety levels shoot up,” he said.

Dhupar said many of his family and friends have also developed long-term respiratory issues.

Srivastava and Dhupar both grew up in New Delhi, which the World Health Organization in 2014 declared the most polluted city in the world.
Smoke Pollution, pixabay

Diesel exhaust contributed to just 2 percent of all air pollution deaths in India in 2015, according to the Health Effects Institute.

But in “confined spaces” in urban areas, where many generators are used, it represents a larger risk, said Pankaj Sadavarte, one of the report’s researchers.

Action in New Delhi

India has in place policies to monitor and restrict air pollution, but they can be difficult to enforce, experts say.

Worries about air pollution are growing, however. Last November, the capital launched its first air quality emergency action plan during a particularly hazardous week when pollution spiked.

The government halted construction within the city, raised parking fees to discourage driving and shut schools to keep children indoors.

Also Read: Exercising? Get Your Clothes Right 

The national Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is drafting a national policy to clean India’s air, though its release has been delayed, said Sunil Dahiya, a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India.

“The air pollution debate and health debate is picking up in India,” Dahiya said in a telephone interview. “That momentum is forcing the policymakers to make our cities more livable.” (VOA)